President Michael Cioni discusses increased episodic work and his studio’s growth.
The quality of television programming — broadcast, cable and streaming — has never been better… from the writing to the acting to the final look of the shows. In response to the new business this production has brought to its facility, Light Iron is growing its television episodic division with talent and gear.
New hire Jeremy Sawyer is a colorist who brings with him a wealth of experience with TV, including grading The Walking Dead, The Closer, South Park, Major Crimes, Limitless and The Affair. He comes to Light Iron from MTI. Prior to that he spent time at Company 3, The Syndicate and Finish Post.
Light Iron’s Hollywood location is adding a second television bay, a new online room and a dailies department for in-house and overnight dailies. Expect a similar expansion at the company’s New York studio in early 2016. In both cases, new hardware has been added specifically for television workflow, such as UHD and HDR monitors and dedicated SAN storage.
“We are coloring with the Sony BVM X300, which satisfies our needs for HDR 4K displays,” explains Light Iron president Michael Cionni. “We are also using the Sony 940c for a consumer confidence monitor check for HDR 4K material, which our clients appreciate. Our newest, optimized 1 Petabyte SAN comes from Quantum and runs StorNext 5.”
Sawyer’s upcoming projects at Light Iron include Season 6 of AMC’s The Walking Dead, Season 1 of History Channel’s Live to Tell and Season 1 of OWN’s Greenleaf. The post house, which is a Panavision company, says to expect more hires in the near future.
In terms of color grading gear, Sawyer is currently using Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio, running on Supermicro computers with multiple Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X graphics cards to be optimized for 4K 60p content, which Light Iron is already using on one of their new shows — Wheeler Dealers for Discovery Channel.
“Episodic projects make up about a third of our DI business in Los Angeles right now,” reports Cioni. “We expect to increase episodic finishing significantly in 2016 at our Los Angeles and New York facilities. Our newest location in New Orleans will support dailies and editorial for both episodic and feature projects.”
One can’t help but wonder how much of this television work is thanks to streaming services now creating their own content. “The truth is that OTT episodic content owners, such as Amazon and Netflix, are very interested in future-proofing their investments by embracing the same elements that Light Iron has been championing for years: file-based capture, mobile post, high dynamic range, wide color gamut and 4K-plus resolutions,” explains Cioni. “Our broadband clients are helping drive many of these innovations, and we’re excited that the balance of projects is shifting.”
Earlier in this piece, Cioni referenced Light Iron’s new studio in New Orleans. This location is part of parent company Panavision’s new 30,500-square-foot space, which will also house Light Iron’s first brick-and-mortar facility in Louisiana. The facility represents the first location the companies have shared since Panavision acquired Light Iron at the start of 2015.